About Us

Contact Us


2001 Archives

Hacktreks 2

First Chapters
World Travel
September Issue
October Issue
November Issue
December Issue
Feb 02 Issue
April 02 Issue
May 02 Issue
June02 Issue
July02 Issue
August 02 Issue
September 02

Barry Dunstall strolls around the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

A Literary life
For a few weeks every year, the literary world comes to Edinburgh for the International Book Festival.
This August, over 120,000 visitors and 500 authors from five continents turned up to discuss books, books and more books. Garrison Keillor, Harold Pinter, Fay Weldon, Alan Bennett, Roddy Doyle, Germaine Greer and Seamus Heaney all graced the Festival in 2002.

The event centres around a plush tented village in Charlotte Square Gardens, which from a distance looks like the poshest campsite in Scotland. You expect to meet the royal family having a picnic. Temporary wooden boardwalks are laid down to keep everyone off the grass (or, as it is known in Edinburgh, the mud). For no matter how Olympian Scotland’s rainfall, everything at the Book Festival stays looking as pristine as the lobby of a five-star hotel. These marquees are cleaner and tidier than most writers’ homes.

There is, for example, a bookshop larger than many of the stores on Princes Street. Enticingly known as the ‘Adult Book Tent’, the shop is unfortunately nowhere near as risqué as it sounds, and actually just sells the usual range of high street titles. The alluring name merely serves to set it apart from the ‘Children’s Book Tent’ next door. But anyway, inspired by your new copy of the latest John Grisham, you can then refine your own art in the dedicated writers’ retreat area, apparently known as a ‘yurt’, where experts are on hand to offer advice and encouragement to budding authors.

And when the literary day has worn you out, you can relax and get as drunk as William Faulkner (purely for creative reasons, obviously) in the Spiegeltent bar – which is not really a tent at all, but an old travelling dance hall, made in Belgium in the 1930s of wood, stained glass, mirrors and velvet.

Indeed, despite all the organised talks and book signings, perhaps the biggest appeal of the Festival is in sitting back, having a drink and people-watching. Where else can you see a J.R.R. Tolkien addict dressed as Gandalf discussing press coverage of women in Islam with Mick Jagger’s biographer?

© Barry Dunstall 2002

< Back to Index
< Reply to this Article

© Hackwriters 2002